Using Arabic in Uganda


My internship at World Peace and Reconciliation (WP&R), an American nongovernment organization working with refugees in South Sudan and Uganda, has provided me the opportunity to improve my abilities practiced at Boston College, in particular speaking Arabic.

I have taken intensive Arabic classes for the past two years, allowing me to assist WP&R in two ways. First, I am teaching Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees English in their native language so that they can better engage with the communities of Uganda—whose official languages are English and Swahili—and increase their likelihood of acquiring jobs. Second, I am reading Arabic news media to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains, where many of the refugees lived before fleeing to Uganda.

A previous internship sponsored by BC has prepared me well for my work with WP&R. Last summer, I received the Mizna Fellowship, a grant from the Islamic Civilization and Societies Program that funds students performing community service in the Muslim world. I traveled to Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country with a Muslim minority, to teach English with the Smile Education and Development Foundation. This travel gave me the necessary background to do related, targeted work in Uganda, where I could also use my familiarity with Arabic.

WP&R has impressed and inspired me so far. I look forward to experiencing more of Uganda with its creative, intelligent students from across Northeast Africa.

Written by  Austin Bodetti, BC Class of 2018


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